Captal Update from Sen. Matt Williams
Greetings District 36. We are a third of the way through the legislative session and we are still dealing with the adoption of rules. I’m reminded of the lyrics to a John Lennon song:
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed
Strange days indeed
Everybody running and no one making a move.
Working with a solid set of rules is paramount for the success of any business or organization including the Nebraska Legislature. Over the past several years the use of the filibuster has increased during debate on complicated and emotional issues. Some contend that we need to tighten the rules to make it more difficult to engage in extended debate. I personally believe the increased use of the filibuster tactic is not an issue of rules but instead an issue of senators’ behavior.
The rules debate has gone on for days yet no one has made a compelling case to change the rules. The filibuster rule is designed to protect the minority in the body. Some look at this very simplistically saying it’s a disagreement between Republicans and Democrats. Therefore, the Republicans should win because they hold a majority of the seats in the Legislature. I would suggest there are other minorities which need to be protected. How about farmers versus our urban neighbors? How about rural schools versus schools in metropolitan areas? How about the use of water for livestock and agriculture versus water for human consumption? As a rural senator I am intent on protecting the interests of agriculture and our rural schools.
The Legislature finally agreed to use the current rules until March 20th to give the 18 new senators an opportunity to see how the rules work. I am hopeful that we can use this time to discuss important issues that affect the future of Nebraska: property taxes, tax reform, school funding, and growing our economy.
This continues to be a contentious and difficult session. I remain committed to bringing people together on these important issues. Democracy works when people are willing to engage in thoughtful compromise. I remind myself that things are never as good as you think they are, and things are never as bad as you think they are, unless you quit trying. You have my promise that I will never quit trying!